Washington, Sep 18: European Space Agency and Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has released an image of Mars' north polar region which looks like melted white chocolate and was shared on September 16, gives a sneak peek at dunes on the Red Planet's surface.
The image is of dunes that vary in shape on Mars and may provide clues about the prevailing wind direction.
By studying dunes over time, researchers can see how dunes evolve on the Martian surface and how sediments move around the planet.
Explaining in details, the dark areas are cracks and gaps in the ice that are formed when gas trapped below is released. When the gas breaks free, it carries dust and sand with it, covering the edges of the cracks with the darker material.
#Space #Science #ImageOfTheWeek: A stunning new view of dunes in the north polar region of #Mars by @ExoMars_CaSSIS onboard @ESA_TGO.— ESA Science (@esascience) September 16, 2019
📷 Image & details: https://t.co/oJMmiKF9xM
More #ExoMars to come this week at #EPSCDPS2019! pic.twitter.com/QmF2aKYX1Y
According to ESA, during winter in the polar regions, a thin layer of carbon dioxide ice covers the surface and then it sublimates, turning directly into vapour with the first light of spring.
The captivating image was taken by the spacecraft's CaSSIS camera in late May.
The CaSSIS camera also spotted "barchan" dunes, the crescent or U-shaped dunes that can be observed in the right side of the image, as they merge into barchanoid ridges. This transition from barchan to barchanoid dunes indicates that secondary winds are also important to Mars' dune field.